Securing A Wrestling Scholarship: The Ultimate Guide
If you are thinking:
How do I get recruited to wrestle in college?
Or, even better:
How do I secure a wrestling scholarship?
Then you are in the right place.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the recruiting process.
Including:Mastering the fundamentals
Registering for camps
Creating an eye-catching highlight video
Charming coaches with your social media presence
Getting recruited with RecruitRef
Succeeding in school
Exploring your options
Learning about the three organizations governing athletics
Connecting with coaches
MASTERING THE FUNDAMENTALS
With thousands of wrestlers who are in the same position as you,
How do you stand out from the bunch?
In order to impress coaches and prove that you have what it takes,
You should make sure that you have the necessary skill set.
What does this include?
Coaches like wrestlers who can escape from the bottom position and rarely give up on takedowns.
You should also prove to coaches that you have good defense,
As well as the ability to score points and get pins.
A wrestler who is able to score many points is beneficial to the entire team,
Which coaches highly value in college.
Aside from the technical skills, a good wrestler should be coachable with a good mentality.
The ability to adapt or respond to a loss says a lot about a wrestler and their perseverance.
Lastly, demonstrating that you have potential to grow will appeal to college coaches.
As you can see, strength, agility, and strategy are all very important in wrestling,
But so too is mentality.
You should practice your physical skills by challenging wrestlers who are have a similar skill set to you.
The challenge will benefit you both.
You can also work on your skills by practicing your shots, sprawls, and footwork as if there is another person in front of you.
College coaches also look for potential,
So demonstrate determination and perseverance in practice and in competition,
And you will surely get recognized for it.
REGISTERING FOR CAMPS
Hundreds of camps are held all over the US each year by many colleges and universities.
But why should you sign up for one?
Camps and clinics are some of the best ways to improve your technique and abilities.
They introduce you to other coaching methods that could help you get an edge on your competition.
Yes, that’s right.
You have the opportunity to learn from college coaching staff,
Which means that you can begin forming connections early on.
Plus, camps allow college coaches to assess your abilities and potential first-hand.
Additionally, your attendance at camps demonstrates good character,
Such as motivation to learn, initiative, and dedication -
- Character traits that are well respected by college coaches.
CREATING AN EYE-CATCHING HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
As you develop your skills,
And feel confident about your ability to wrestle in college,
It is time to start filming your highlight video.
A highlight video is one of the most important parts of your athletic resume.
It is not always possible for college coaches to watch potential recruits in person,
So they rely on highlight videos to show them who has the ability or potential to play for their program,
As well as who they should keep an eye on or travel to watch in person.
So how do you make a highlight video that will make you stand out?
Start by having someone film you during matches.
Use a tripod to prevent the camera from shaking,
And to produce higher quality film that will be easier when it comes time to edit.
Have your cameraman film from a good vantage point where they are able to capture you and your competitor.
Include footage that displays your technical efficiency,
As well as any match where you wrestled tough, whether it was a win or loss.
You should also include any big wins in your highlight video -
- preferably at the state or national level.
Coaches are looking for wrestlers with:
Tough hand fighting, technical takedowns, and lots of back points.
Compile these clips into a video that is short and precise.
Keep the video under 5 minutes -
- Coaches do not have the time to watch long videos.
Once you have compiled your video,
Upload it to YouTube and then link it to your RecruitRef profile.
Coaches will then be able to access your video with a simple search,
And you are on your way to getting noticed.
CHARMING COACHES WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Social media is another important aspect of the recruiting process.
Coaches use social media to get a sense of potential recruits’ characters.
Aside from talent and academics, coaches assess character to judge whether a student-athlete is a good fit for their program,
As well as if they will represent the program well.
Social media that is filled with explicit photos, negative content, or discriminatory posts
Will ruin your scholarship opportunities.
As a rule of thumb, ask yourself:
What does this post say about my character?
Take extra precaution with your social media accounts in order to make a positive impression on coaches.
So what should you post in order to impress coaches?
Make your profile picture highlight you in positive light,
Or post pictures of yourself giving back to the community.
You can also post content that shows you have good sportsmanship,
Like congratulating a competitor after a tough match where you lost.
Share posts about college programs that you are interested in.
When college coaches see these posts, they will learn which programs you are genuinely interested in.
GETTING RECRUITED WITH RECRUITREF
RecruitRef is an awesome tool for student-athletes looking to get recruited.
By making a profile, you immediately become discoverable to coaches all across the nation.
And you can upload your entire athletic resume.
Specifically, RecruitRef lets you upload your:
- Highlight video
- Eligibility Number
- GPA, and
- SAT/ACT score
All the information coaches are looking for is presented on a single, streamlined page,
Which is awesome for them.
Because it reduces search time and makes their job easier.
And did you know?
RecruitRef allows you to contact coaches right from their website,
As well as track email delivery and responses.
RecruitRef gives you the tools to connect and get noticed,
Which makes you that much closer to securing a wrestling scholarship.
SUCCEEDING IN SCHOOL
Coaches place great value on student-athletes who are not only talented, but also good students.
But why are academics so important?
First of all, making good grades in high school will make an impression on coaches.
A strong academic record shows that you are:
Disciplined, responsible, and probably a smart athlete.
Secondly, good grades will expand the opportunities available to you.
You are more likely to get accepted to some of the top colleges in the nation with a respectable GPA and strong test scores.
Good students are more likely to receive academic scholarships.
As you can see, there are many benefits to succeeding in school.
Maintain a high GPA by excelling in school beginning with your freshman year.
It will be harder to raise your GPA the later you are in your high school career.
Keep in mind that academics are just as important as your skill-level.
In addition to the factors we discussed earlier, your GPA and test scores determine whether you are eligible to wrestle in college.
That leads us to our next topic of discussion:
In order to wrestle at the collegiate level, many schools require that you register with an eligibility center.
The NCAA and NAIA have their own corresponding eligibility centers.
The NCAA requires all student-athletes who are interested in wrestling for a school in Division I or Division II to register with their Eligibility Center.
In order to become eligible, potential DI and DII student-athletes must uphold a minimum GPA and SAT or ACT score.
This minimum is determined by a sliding scale.
What does this mean?
A sliding scale means that your minimum GPA requirement is based off of your SAT or ACT score.
Or vice versa.
You can find more specifics about the sliding scale here.
What about student-athletes interested in NCAA Division III athletics?
Those student-athletes are expected to uphold standards set by the individual institution that they are interested in wrestling for.
What are the eligibility standards for the NAIA and NJCAA?
The NAIA has an eligibility center that they require all potential student-athletes to register with.
As opposed to the NCAA, the NAIA requires that wrestlers uphold two out of three of the following requirements:
- Minimum ACT score of 18 or a minimum SAT score of 860
- Minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0
- Top 50% of your graduating class
The NJCAA is similar to NCAA Division III in that they rely on individual institutions to set academic standards for their student-athletes.
Each organization values academic performance on top of athletic talent,
Which further emphasizes the importance of academic success.
But how do you know which organization’s standards you need to correspond with?
Keep reading onto the next section…
EXPLORING YOUR OPTIONS
There are hundreds of schools with wrestling programs across the nation.
But how do you decide which one is the best fit for you?
Start by defining your goals.
What do you want from a college experience?
You obviously want wrestling to be a part of your experience,
But have you considered the other factors that make up a college experience?
Consider or compare and contrast:
- Quality of academics
- School size
- Professor to student ratio
- Diversity, and
Explore the options available to you to get the best sense of what program will be the best fit for you.
Take a little extra time reflecting on your own wants and preferences,
Because it will make it easier to commit to a college.
Learning more about the three governing athletic organizations will also help you to decide which type of wrestling program you would like to join.
This next step will teach you everything you need to know:
LEARNING ABOUT THE THREE ORGANIZATIONS GOVERNING ATHLETICS
There are three governing organizations of collegiate athletics: NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA.
Each one fosters a unique athletic and academic experience.
Learning more about the three organizations will help you determine which type of school you would like to play for.
Let’s start by talking about the NCAA.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, is the largest governing organization with over 1,200 schools.
It is divided into three divisions based on how many resources they devote to their athletic programs.
Division I programs have the largest athletic budget, while Division III programs have the smallest.
There are 241 wrestling programs in the NCAA with a larger concentration of them in Division III.
NCAA Men’s Wrestling Programs
So what are the differences between divisions?
NCAA Division I is the most competitive division of collegiate athletics,
And also generates the largest fanbase.
Because Division I programs have the largest athletic budget,
They are able to give away the most numerous amount of athletic scholarships, both full-ride and partial.
Does this mean that Division III programs give away the fewest amount of scholarships?
Unfortunately, Division III programs do not give away athletic scholarships at all.
However, Division III student-athletes can receive other forms of aid,
Such as grants or academic scholarships.
What about Division II?
Division II gives athletic scholarships that predominantly come in the form of partial scholarships.
So how do you decide which division is the right fit for you?
One of the main differences between divisions is the amount of time spent dedicated to the sport.
Because it is the most competitive, Division I student-athletes spend the most time practicing and traveling for competitions.
Division II has fewer mandated practices and the majority of their competition is regional.
Division III requires the least amount practice time and travel time.
This means that student-athletes in Division III are able to devote more time toward their academic experience,
Like connecting with professors, studying abroad, and participating in extracurriculars -
- Opportunities that are not as accessible to a Division I athlete.
In order to determine which division you would like to play for, ask yourself:
What kind of balance do I want between wrestling and academics?
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, NAIA, is the second governing organization of collegiate athletics.
There are over 250 colleges and universities in the NAIA, but only 67 schools have men’s wrestling programs.
In terms of competitiveness, the NAIA is similar to NCAA Division II.
And just like NCAA Division II, the NAIA gives away athletic scholarships that are predominantly partial scholarships.
National Junior College Athletic Association, NJCAA, is the third governing body of collegiate athletics.
Over 520 two-year colleges and community colleges make up the NJCAA,
However just 53 schools have men’s wrestling programs.
The NJCAA is less competitive than the other organizations and is great for student-athletes who have a weak GPA and test scores
Because the academic standards are lower for schools in the NJCAA.
When a student-athlete cannot get into their preferred school because of a weak academic record,
They can choose to play for a two-year college,
Raise their GPA,
Get noticed by college coaches from four-year universities,
Then transfer to a four-year university afterwards.
Student-athletes who are coming from two-year university programs appeal to college coaches
Because those athletes have already adapted to the rigor of college athletics,
As well as the time management skills needed to succeed.
Does the NJCAA offer athletic scholarships?
Yes, the NJCAA offers both full-ride and partial scholarships.
The NJCAA is also great because tuition rates are typically lower than they are for schools in the NAIA or NCAA.
CONNECTING WITH COACHES
Once you narrow down a list of colleges that you would like to attend,
You should begin reaching out to coaches.
Coaches are not likely to discover you by themselves.
Contacting them will help you get their attention.
So what exactly should you email them?
Begin by introducing yourself and explaining why you are interested in their program,
Then include a couple statistics or accomplishments.
At the end of your email, link your RecruitRef profile,
Which will include your highlight video and statistics.
There may be a handful of programs that you are interested in,
Which means that you will have more emails to send out,
But be careful not to send generic, mass emails.
This will deter coaches because it will make them think that you are not genuinely interested in their program.
You can use templates like this one that sound personalized:
Coach [insert coach’s last name],
My name is [insert name]. I am a [insert year in school] on the wrestling team at [insert school name], and I am [insert height] and [insert weight]. I am a dedicated, hard working student-athlete interested in wrestling at [insert college name]. Based on my consistent outstanding performance on and off the mat, I was recognized as [insert award or milestone (i.e. First Team All-State)] this past season.
It is because of my love for the sport that I would like to play for your program. [insert college name] is so appealing to me because of it’s long-standing emphasis not only on the sport, but also on character-building. I would love the opportunity to support [insert mascot name], as both a student and athlete.
Attached you will find a link to my highlight video and statistics. [insert link to your RecruitRef profile]
I look forward to hearing back,
[insert your name]
Contacting and connecting with coaches is extremely important in the recruiting process.
If you do not hear back, feel free to contact them again.
If you do receive a response, always respond.
You want to make a good impression on coaches,
And also respect the time they took to email you back.